By John Aloysius Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
I will give Barack Obama an "A" for the first grading period, realizing that it doesn't mean a thing.
A hundred days was a meaningful way to measure Napoleon's return to France, but only because it took that long for the British and the Prussians to gather their armies and meet his at Waterloo. The climactic battle made the time frame meaningful.
Obama has not had a climactic battle. And the real results of the skirmishes he has won (chiefly, the stimulus package) are still months or years away.
The president has put together an impressive team, and he has got that laid-back Hawaiian cool thing going, inspiring hope. He's signaled to the world that the United States is interested in new approaches in foreign policy. He has demanded that Congress address long-term challenges in healthcare, education, and energy.
But the problems that Audacity inherited—Afghanistan, the banks, General Motors, Israel, Iraq, and the rest—don't lend themselves to 100-day solutions. And the United States is so stretched, economically and militarily, that a major crisis—Pakistan? swine flu?—could sweep away what progress he has been making.
As I have argued here before, a lot of little stuff (the smart grid, Cuba) and even some big stuff (healthcare reform) that might otherwise have paralyzed Washington may slide through in the cacophony.
When you are worried about the Taliban getting their hands on nuclear weapons, or an influenza pandemic, or an Iranian-Israeli war, the ability of the insurance or energy industry to command your attention with their usual fear mongering may be limited.
But nobody really knows. Ask me at 400 days.
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